“Hello Glastonbury, you’re still awake I see,” is how Justin Young greets the crowd who’ve gathered for The Vaccines’ not-so-secret set right at the start of the first full day of the festival. As the frontman will tell us later, it’s been “eight long years” since the band last played this part of the festival, but even then they weren’t at the bottom of the pile.
This isn’t some sudden, spectacular fall from grace, though. The band are taking the usually unannounced slot kicking things off on the Other Stage except, this year, everyone knows exactly who’s going to be walking out when the clock strikes 11. Despite the early hour and the lack of mystery, there’s a huge mass of people here – after all, there are few bands more reliable when it comes to delivering a fun festival set that will get you in the mood to go wilding over all 900 acres of the Glastonbury site.
Their dependability comes from the songs – the sultry, sexy grooves of ‘Dream Lover’, ‘Handsome’’s arrogant stomp, the no-nonsense pogo of ‘If You Wanna Come Back’ – and from Young’s considerable presence as a frontman. During the prowling ‘Out On The Street’, he swivels his hips and jabs his arms into the air like Elvis. Immediately after, he uses the break to introduced live member Tim Lanham, abruptly stopping the crowd’s enthusiastic response with a curt: “That’s enough.”
Being able to count on The Vaccines doesn’t just stop with their live show, though. There’s a new song thrown into the middle of the 50-minute set that proves no matter how much time passes, you can trust them to always write indie bangers that make you want to run riot with your mates stat. ‘Let’s Jump Off The Top’ is no different, Young crooning, “Don’t you feel like we’re the last people on Earth?” over Freddie Cowan’s piercing, needling guitar line. Like a lot of Vaccines songs, there’s something ageless about it – as if it could have been written in the peak of the ‘60s polished rock’n’roll or made for a ‘90s teen movie soundtrack.
“We really do love you very much,” Young says sincerely later. “This is The Vaccines’ fourth Glastonbury and it never fails to blow my mind.” A second later, he follows his sentimental words by playing up to the crowd with some classic frontman trickery. “I can see my tent over there,” he says, pointing at a spot in the distance where you almost definitely won’t find him camped later.
There’s time for two more songs once he’s done trying to prove he’s just like everyone in front of him. ‘I Can’t Quit’ is a final surge of all-out power, riding the mid-morning energy wave its creators have made til Young is on his knees on the floor. Minutes later, he’s back on his feet, eyes and fists raised dramatically to the sky as the band wrap things up with a glorious ‘All In White’. The singer drags out the final syllables of the song until he reaches the very last one, on which he shifts from emotive singing to sharp bark. With that, The Vaccines are off, the job they were booked for very much fulfilled and the Other Stage audience ready to take on the rest of the line-up.
The Vaccines played:
‘Your Love Is My Favourite Band’
‘I Always Knew’
‘Wrecking Bar (Ra Ra Ra)’
‘Out On The Street’
‘Post Break-Up Sex’
‘Let’s Jump Off The Top’
‘All My Friends Are Falling In Love’
‘If You Wanna Come Back’
‘I Can’t Quit’
‘All In White’